Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fighting Our Creativity Crisis

After listening to Louis Richardson’s IBM InterConnect session on “Facing Our Creativity Crisis,” I have never been so aware of how truly lucky I am.

With greater pressure than ever before to be more productive than creative, and with the ever-growing fear of failure, we professionals are officially in a creativity crisis. This crisis has resulted in a growing number of disinterested, unfulfilled individuals sitting in conference rooms and cubicles throughout the world.

While creativity is being drained from the business world, it is more critical than ever for employees to reverse this trend and be CREATIVE to build a successful company in 2015. Not just creative, but also collaborative, communicative and flexible.

Now let me explain what this has to do with me being one heck of a lucky individual. Not only am I asked by my employer to break creative barriers every day, but I am also encouraged to be collaborative, communicative and flexible on a daily basis.

Creativity: From #20Questions to TED@IBM, I am challenged to bring my most creative ideas to the table constantly. The leaders on my team create an environment where we are encouraged to tap into our creative potential and where any idea is a good idea as long as you voice it.

Collaboration: I believe IBM defines the word “collaborative.” Since starting at the company a little over a year ago I have been able to work across more industries than I even knew existed! From the recently launched IBV Millennial Study, the Work/Life 2020 initiative, Millennial Corps, to NRF – I am able to collaborate regularly with new individuals on different exciting projects.

Communication: Without communication at a company as large and complex as IBM I wouldn’t be able to do my job. Luckily I have a manager who understands this perfectly and who makes it her priority to be as transparent and approachable as possible to me and the other members of our team. Not only do we have a team call once a week to go over what’s going on within our team and within the entire company, but she also holds a call with each of us individually once a week to go over anything and everything we have questions about – and she opens each and every call with “How are you doing, Sam?” She constantly provides us with valuable feedback – and even asks us to let her know if there’s anything she can be doing to make our jobs better. Now THAT’S what I call communicative!

Flexible: Without flexibility, it would be much more difficult to achieve creativity, collaboration and communication. People are always surprised when I tell them I work from home. “But how do you get anything done? Aren’t you distracted all day? Don’t you feel lonely?” The answer is that I get my work done by having the proper tools (e.g., Connections, SameTime) to communicate and collaborate creatively with my team and other individuals at IBM. For me, work is where the Wi-Fi is: I’m able to be in my preferred environment for getting the best work done while still feeling that I’m a valued member of a team and not having my creativity stifled or underappreciated.

As upsetting as it is to hear that the world is facing a creativity crisis, companies like IBM reassure me that there’s a solution out there for companies that are ready to hire the right people, create the right environment, and provide the right tools.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1Grua2Z


Friday, February 20, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bring Your Social Values to Work

As much as has been made about the fact that all businesses are now social businesses, we still hear stories of companies that have failed in their social business endeavors, especially when it comes to building an integrated and holistic internal program. That’s because too many companies simply slap together an internal networking platform and command employees to use it. Instead, orgs should be taking the time to put together a solution that not only lets employees work with their current business processes in a natural way, but also lets them bring their social values from home into the workplace.

This new video from IBM Social Business captures the spirit of this idea.

We are all, as the video says, a collection of our ideas, our experiences and the cultures that form us. Rather than leaving this at the door when we clock in in the morning, we should bring all of it with us to work. We are used to sharing our passions and our interests and our imagination with our social communities. We need to learn to share these at work as well, the better to build relationships, engage in productive and even serendipitous conversations, and spark new ideas.

If we bring the same freedom and values we treasure in our personal lives to bear upon our professional lives, and our company culture is one that is conducive these social values and practices, we open up worlds of opportunities for ourselves and our colleagues. If we check our values at the door, or if the organization stifles them through a toxic culture or lack of social infrastructure, we and our colleagues are robbed of inspiration and insights, and the fires of innovation are extinguished before the spark can even be struck.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/17Ud5mZ


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pave Your Road to Engagement with Insights

I thought of titling this post “Pave Your Road to Engagement with Bricks of Insight,” but I thought that would be pushing the metaphor, which works much better in the lavish infographic below than it does in print. To be sure, the road sign in the infographic reads “success,” but that success is realized through engagement. The story this infographic tells is one of integrating social business into your enterprise in a strategic way in order to gain a competitive edge. You may have heard this story before, but now more than ever, tools such as engagement centers are opening up new opportunities for communication and innovation.


Note that the infographic depicts a cycle: there is no single set entry point into this process. To put it succinctly if perhaps over-simplistically, engaging with customers gives you data which you can turn into insights for building better strategies which let you better engage with customers, etc. The engagement center “machine” is in the middle of the cycle because it is your hub, your way of visualizing engagement, monitoring and analyzing sentiment, and gaining insights not only to build better marketing and PR campaigns but even to drive innovation in products and services.

I’ve been to a number of conferences where IBM Social Business has had a presence and without fail the biggest attraction in the booth if not at the show is the IBM Engagement Center. What draws people in is the EC’s mesmerizing visuals, but what really gets them excited is when they hear exactly what the EC is showing, and what’s going on behind the scenes to make that happen. The IBM EC utilizes Watson Analytics, Cognos/SMA, Bluemix, Softlayer and other IBM solutions to take data from the cloud and make it meaningful, tangible, accessible. It’s the perfect marriage of social business, cloud, mobile, data and analytics technologies.

Once people understand the EC better, they start to see the crucial role it has to play in an overarching social business strategy. Indeed, they get a better sense of what social business itself is (the most commonly asked question I’ve heard in the social business booth is, “What is social business?”) and how it can give companies a competitive edge through key insights. Those insights are the bricks that will pave the path to engagement, and that same road leads to success.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1FDI69M


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Email or Nap? Self-Driving Cars and the Future of Work-Life Balance

Generally on business-related tweet chats, while you may run across some interesting ideas or surprising insights, one doesn’t expect to see a lot of actual debate. During a recent #SocBizChat the subject of the future of work-life balance came up and led to some interesting comments—all the more so because there were divergent opinions on the topic. In particular, people had varying views on whether advances such as self-driving cars will lead to better or worse work-life balance.

Social, data and other technologies will continue to make us more efficient, freeing up time we’d otherwise spend searching for information, tracking down expertise, sharing files, you name it. Collaborative and mobile technologies allow us to work from virtually anywhere, while self-driving cars promise to turn our commutes into …

image Into what? What will we do with all of this extra time and this ability to stay connected 24/7? Will we work longer hours as we find ourselves unable to disconnect, or will we have the discipline to stick to a roughly 40-hour work week, even if we’re not necessarily working nine hours in a row with an hour lunch break every day? Will we use our commutes in self-driving cars as opportunities to nap, or to extend our workday?

My hope is that the choice will come down to the individual. A company that has an attractive culture, one that values work-life balance and won’t expect employees to spend their commute connected and active, will enjoy great retention as well as the benefits of employees as brand advocates. A company with a more always-connected, always-working culture, on the other hand, or even managers with this mindset at an otherwise enlightened company, will view the “free” time bought by new technology belongs to the company. It’s no stretch to assume they will suffer from low employee morale. Unfortunately, not every employee has the luxury of leaving a company that expects immediate responses and action even “after hours.”

Employees at the second type of company will feel obligated to work during their self-driving car (or hyperloop!) commute and most will feel miserable and resentful about it. Some employees at the first type of company will spend their commute sleeping, some will spend it reading, others will choose to work, but it will be there choice, and all will be happy and fulfilled, at the very least during that period of time that technology has given back to them.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/16N0As6